Menswear

On Wednesday night, after the last show of the spring/summer 2013 season, after the last dinner (almost after midnight) I trucked up to Azzedine Alaïa’s atelier to see what he was working on. Mr Alaïa often shows the week after the Paris collections are over (which is also when he sells to stores), and I often stop in for a preview, but this season he wasn’t doing a mini-presentation at all, except for buyers. So, as one does, I asked him why? Read more

It seems to me Chanel is fast becoming the Swatch of luxury – and no one is really paying attention.

Today WWD is reporting that the couture house’s affiliate, Paraffection, has acquired French super-glove-maker Causse, which joins the other EIGHT specialist ateliers they have bought up in the past decade including embroiderer Lesage and button maker Desrues. The spin goes: Chanel is preserving French know-how for posterity (and indeed, according to our piece on manufacturing in France, if you don’t, say, use Lesage for embroidery, you would probably need to go to India to find the same skills). But at the same time they are acquiring a monopoly on said skills. Which is where the Swatch comparison comes in. Read more

If anyone still doubted the fact that the Obama camp is embracing former President Bill Clinton and vice versa, last night’s convention put an end to it, not only because of what the former President said, very eloquently, but because of how the two men looked. I mean – this is like high school: they’re almost matching! Read more

Last night at the DNC, during a pre-speech convention interview, First Lady Michelle Obama (then wearing DVF) told Deborah Norville , who was excitedly asking her what she was going to wear on stage, that she didn’t know, and she would pick what she likes. Frankly, after seeing her choice — a dress by an African-American female designer from Detroit, Tracy Reese — I believe this like I believe gullible isn’t in the dictionary. Read more

Anyone in doubt of the rising prominence of the men’s wear market, take note: super-dapper designer Stefano Pilati, who was rather unceremoniously dumped as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent just before his runway show last season, has found a new job as creative director of Ermenegildo Zegna and Agnona. It’s new role for the group, and it’s being announced with much hoo-ha. As well it should: it signals both an aggressive move to up their menswear designer profile, and a potential big move in womenswear. Read more

Despite having displayed an admirable consistency during the campaign thus far, dress if not policy-wise, yesterday night Mitt Romney gave up the sartorial fight, and switched sides. Yes, like so many of his winning predecessors before him, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush (once), for his speech accepting the Republican party nomination for President, he wore…a red tie. Why do we care?
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A number of questions were answered about Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s VP pick, during his speech last night at the Republican Convention last night. Would he come out fighting? Check. Would he address the Medicare issue? Kind of. Would he make winning jokes about his new boss? Check. Would his famously ill-fitting, too baggy suits, which Esquire likened to a trash bag, be given a Sarah-Palin-type makeover? Nope. Now the question is: why not?
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Attention luxury shoppers: finally some news that would indicate the industry is not in quite as dire straits as trend-watchers keep predicting thanks to its foot-dragging, Luddite-like approach to on-line shopping. Read on! Read more

Even before its results announcement today, PPR had made some news: it was proceeding apace with its plan to dispose of no-longer-core assets (ie, non-luxury/sports lifestyle rbands), and had agreed to sell 29.8% of its stake in CFAO, an African automotive and pharmaceutical distribution company, to Toyota Tsusho Corporation. This should net the PPR guys about €980 million.The stated plan is to use the money to pay down debt, but in that impossible-to-control way of things, already there is speculation among some watchers about what they might buy, if they were going to use the money to buy something. I love a nice round of speculation. Read more

As far as strange, opaque industries go, modelling is up there with espionage and rocket science: it’s a world built on image, and invested in preserving its mystery. Recently, however, two inmates (intimates?) have started to speak out about the reality, and what’s interesting is they’re not talking about the sex/drugs/eating disorders issues we are used to, but rather employment-law-type infractions: pay inequality, ridiculously long working hours, bad working conditions, and child labour. Read more

LVMH just announced the acquisition of Arnys, a family-owned French made-to-measure tailor established in 1933. It seems the plan is to combine it with Berluti, to give that brand, run by Antoine Arnault (aka Bernard Arnault’s eldest son) a super-high end suiting service. The former luxury shoe brand also launched men’s ready-to-wear last season. Take that, Savile Row! And take that, PPR! Read more

“2% of the population under 30, and 2% of the population under 40 are millionaires who are not being catered to by the men’s knitwear market,” So said Jean-Victor Meyers to me yesterday, explaining his new men’s cashmere business, which aims to change all that. Read more

Will real men buy silk? And not silk ties, but silk shirts, silk suits, silk trench coats, silk sweaters and silk…seersucker? Can silk be sold, successfully, as “the cashmere of summer,” and hence raise the stakes in the race for the next luxury fibre once again? These are the questions. Not that Hamlet had to worry about them, of course. Ermenegildo Zegna does.

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As if the Jubilee and the Olympics weren’t enough, this June London fashion will inaugurate its first ever dedicated men’s wear – well, not week. Three days! You have to start somewhere.The announcement marks an interesting evolution in British fashion thinking. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t go far enough.

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On Sunday the French electorate goes to the polls for the first round of presidential elections, which are widely expected to result in a François Hollande/Nicolas Sarkozy face-off in round two. Much has been made of this being a quasi-referendum on the future of the euro, France’s relationship with Germany and the rate of taxation on the top 10 per cent of the population (not to mention whether or not France feels it’s time to get a Socialist back in the Elysée). But it seems to me there’s another issue also at stake that hasn’t really been discussed but is equally interesting: the question of what it means to appear presidential in a straitened economic era.

Much hair-pulling and hand-wringing has gone on in the last few years over the migration of manufacturing jobs from Western nations to Asia, where costs are lower — exemplified in part in the Obama administration’s current “Made in America” campaign — but a piece today in the FT suggests that, when it comes to luxury and Europe at least, the equation may be about to reverse.

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And so, enter George Osborne with the 2012 UK budget in its little red box (at least symbolically). It strikes me that this photo op has to be one of the weirder moments in UK political imagineering.

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There is a tendency, among political leaders, especially of the UK-US variety, to engage in sartorial covert diplomacy during state visits; for the visitor to effectively mirror the dress of the visitee in order to suggest a discrete sort of understanding of the agenda — at least as far as photo ops go. Yesterday, however, when David Cameron showed up for his current US trip, the changed nature of the relationship seemed to be reflected in his wardrobe. One day in, there’s been zero matchy-matchy.

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During fashion show season, which is any time between January’s men’s wear shows and this weekend, when their women’s wear collection is shown in Milan, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana don’t go out to lunch.

More fashion lexicon news: Apparently, at least in the US, men are into accessories, but not into the nominally feminine words used to describe accessories. They love bracelets – but not the name. They are into tote bags, but not the appellation. So what have retailers done? They are inventing new language to make their clients happier about their purchases.
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